Claremore Daily Progress

Sports

January 17, 2014

Auburn's Malzahn wins Bear Bryant Award

HOUSTON — Gus Malzahn knows all about Bear Bryant, so this award meant a whole lot to the Auburn coach.

Malzahn is the Paul ''Bear'' Bryant College Coach of the Year after leading a remarkable turnaround in his first season in charge of the Tigers, who went to the national title game a year after they went 3-9.

Malzahn, who like Bryant is from Arkansas, said Wednesday night he was honored to be associated with an award with the name of the fabled former Alabama coach.

''When you're growing up he's the man,'' Malzahn said. ''The fact that I'm from the state of Arkansas and he's from Fordyce, Arkansas and one of my best friends is coaching high school there makes it even that much more special.''

Auburn came up just short in the national championship, with Florida State scoring a touchdown with 13 seconds left to pick up a 34-31 win.

''We're still hurting over the fact that we were close to winning the national championship and got beat,'' Malzahn said. ''But if you can remove yourself from that it was a lot of fun, our players came a long way, they improved each week and we were 13 seconds away from being the national champion.''

Malzahn beat out Baylor's Art Briles, David Bailiff of Rice, Michigan State's Mark Dantonio and David Shaw of Stanford for the honor.

The Tigers, who were winless in Southeastern Conference play in 2012, reeled off nine straight victories after a loss to LSU on Sept. 21 to gain a spot in the title game this season. They were the talk of college football when they returned a missed field goal 109 yards for a last-second score to beat then-top-ranked Alabama on Nov. 30.

Malzahn knew his team was talented, but even he was amazed at what Auburn was able to do this season.

''There's no doubt,'' he said. ''It's hard to get better each week. I bet we're one of the few teams that actually did that, and the fact that we were playing our best football toward the end of the year, it was a lot of fun to watch those guys grow and end up where they did.''

Dantonio led the Spartans to a school-record 13 wins and a No. 3 finish in the final Associated Press poll. It was Michigan State's highest ranking since reaching No. 2 in 1966.

''To me, Bear Bryant is almost a mystical figure,'' Dantonio said. ''When you grow up in a football setting as I did in Ohio in that time period in the `60s and 70s when you were playing high school football, Bear Bryant is legend. To be associated with an award like this is very humbling.''

Briles helped the Bears to their first Big 12 title and first BCS bowl game this season. He said Baylor's recent success has helped him get a much warmer reception than he once received when he visits the homes of recruits.

''It is completely different,'' he said. ''We're in living rooms and kitchens that we never were in before and that's the reality of the situation. Baylor has always had a great location. Now we've got a great location, with a great stadium on a great river that's doing a great job on the football field and a great education.''

Former Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum was the ceremony's other honoree, receiving the Bryant Lifetime Achievement Award. Slocum coached the Aggies from 1989-2002.

''I did have a chance to know him and certainly his accomplishments I'm very aware of,'' Slocum said of Bryant. ''Just to have a lifetime achievement award, there are so many people that are involved in that, and to me it's a sort of validation of the work of all those people, all those players.''

The awards were given in conjunction with the American Heart Association.

 

1
Text Only
Sports
  • DSC_0111web.jpg ‘Team behind the Team’

    For the second-straight year, the Claremore Zebra student training staff will be represented in the Oklahoma Coaches All-State games held in Tulsa.
    Meranda Golbek and Sarah Szcinski, a pair of 2014 Claremore High School graduates, earned All-State honors for their athletic training careers and will join two other student trainers from Jenks and Stillwater High School on the East squad.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • FISHFRYweb.jpg Claremore QB Club holds Fish Fry Aug. 2

    The Claremore Zebra Quarterback Club will hold its annual Fish Fry fundraiser on Aug. 2 at the Claremore High School cafeteria.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • GOLF: OSU's Jelly wins Oklahoma State Amateur

    Oklahoma State's Brendon Jelley captured the Oklahoma Golf Association State Amateur Championship on Wednesday with a 1-up victory over Preston Crawford at The Patriot Golf Club.

    July 29, 2014

  • OSU wrestling to host Alumni Reunion

    Oklahoma State wrestling will host an alumni reunion for former Cowboy wrestlers, trainers and managers on Sept. 19-20 in Stillwater.

    July 29, 2014

  • OU's Mixon claims self defense

    The attorney for Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon says the incident that left a 20-year-old female OU student with multiple facial fractures was a case of self-defense.

    July 29, 2014

  • Sooners' secondary gets ready for changes

    There’s a reason Oklahoma is the preseason favorite to win the Big 12 Conference and a front-runner to get a spot in the first College Football Playoff.

    The experience – especially on defense – is the leading cause.

    July 29, 2014

  • SOFTBALL: Adair aiming high in 2014

    Adair's Lady Warriors have never shied away from the spotlight.

    Head coach Chell Looney's team will have plenty of chances to earn respect and a shot at the program's third straight regional tournament appearance.

    July 29, 2014

  • Cat Conti earns her stripes as football official

    Cat Conti never played sports, let alone had any interest in them, when she was growing up in Southern California. She wanted to be a Hollywood star.

    July 29, 2014

  • Fitzgerald: Union push unified Northwestern

    No matter how this season unfolds, Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald insisted there is no more unified team than his Wildcats.

    For that, he credits the push for them to unionize.

    July 29, 2014

  • NFL: Make or break season for Rams QB Bradford

    It's become a rite of training camp for Sam Bradford.

    Every summer, he deals with the oversized burden of living up to getting picked first overall in 2010. The St. Louis Rams quarterback is not surprised that once again, he's supposedly at a career crossroads.

    July 29, 2014